Interiorssneak peeks

sneak peek: raya carlisle

by anne

Raya Carlisle is a wedding photographer and occasional lifestyle blogger raised in Santa Cruz and now living in Ventura, California, with her husband, Forest, their kids, Baker (age 4 1/2) and Genevieve (1 1/2), and dog, Maisy. About seven years ago, the family bought this 1951 cottage that is approximately 1300 square feet including the garage. The open floor plan and nice south-facing light, as well as the antique O’Keefe and Merritt stove and pool, made up for the modest size. Raya and her husband have been honing in on their house’s style: a mix of mid-century, flea market and quirky with lots of color. Thanks so much for this peek, Raya (and for the pictures, too)! — Anne

Image above: This is my happy corner. It’s a good representation of all the styles we mix in our home, and I love all the color.

Image above: After seven years of red brick, we had the fireplace painted the same color as our walls (Benjamin Moore White Dove OC-17). There are very strong opinions about painting brick, but since it’s not original and is in a weird spot between the kitchen/living room, we thought it would open up the space nicely. The Andy Warhol “Hearts” print is from art.com, the gold peacocks are a Rose Bowl flea market find and the cameras all belonged to Forest’s grandfathers.

See more inside Raya’s beautiful home after the jump . . .

Image above: I found this reproduction lounge chair and ottoman buried under a pile of stuff at my favorite (now closed) antique shop. I had an upholsterer patch some tears and paint the leather, a much more affordable route than reupholstering. The painting is by Santa Cruz artist and friend Danielle Rahe Fox.

Image above: Our playroom is normally sprinkled with toys, but I prefer this view! This room is an add-on by previous owners, and you can only see this half from the living room, so I tried to make this corner more of a sitting area. It has great light, and I love to hang out on the sofa while the kids play. The school lockers were sitting outside my neighbor’s house for weeks until I finally saw him outside and asked if he’d sell. $20 with delivery! Forest painted the doors, and we store most of the toys inside with baskets. The table is an old Ikea tabletop with vintage hairpin legs, and the rug is from rugsusa.com.

Image above: When I was pregnant with our second, we decided to give up the formal dining room and turn that space into a playroom so that we didn’t have to have all the toys in their shared bedroom. We used to have a massive farm table that was not working in this new space — the bench seat off the kitchen. We sold it and bought this little table at a thrift store, which works for now. The chairs are Thonet, purchased on Craigslist and originally from a church in Santa Barbara. I love the color, and they are the first “real” dining chairs I’ve ever had.

Image above: The tepee [off to the right] is one of my best purchases ever. We set it up either outside or in the playroom and fill it with blankets and pillows. Tree blocks are my new favorite thing. I think I play with them more than the kids do.

Image above: I’ve been looking for lockers for friends, and it’s hard to find ones that are big enough to actually hold toys. These are 12 in. square, and the resin strap baskets from Land of Nod fit perfectly. I painted round wood discs from Michael’s with chalkboard paint and attached them with Velcro. I don’t mind lots of toys everywhere as long as they all have a home when it’s time to clean up. And that’s Genevieve running through my shot — a happy accident.

Image above: Our kitchen is unusually large for the houses in this neighborhood and was a big selling point. Not much has been done since we moved in, except painting and changing the light fixtures. I have grand plans for it someday. The bar stools are from Industry West, all the lights are from Schoolhouse Electric and the island is Ikea.

Image above: I love bar carts, but our house doesn’t have much wall space, and I don’t know how it would go with small kids in the house. To get that feeling, Forest’s whiskey and scotch bottles are on a counter in the kitchen. I put this together the other day with a West Elm tray, favorite glasses from Anthropologie and a milk glass bowl from my small collection. If you notice the wood grain on the wall, that paneling was used throughout the house, but this small wall is all that remains of its former funky self.

Image above: This is my “granny” shelf. I gathered a bunch of tea tins for a baby shower and then decided to display them in the kitchen. I found this set of yellow dishes at a thrift store as well as that weird painting. That’s the kind of thing I buy and later ask why? But the heart wants what the heart wants.

Image above: I have always had a chair problem. I get it from my mom, who is a professional slipcover maker and is always bringing home chairs from everywhere. When I started getting more into design, the vintage Bertoia chair was my first purchase, via eBay. I love it, and it should probably have a better home than this corner. The pillow is one I made from fabric given to me by my best friend. We share a love for good florals.

Image above: This is the other side of the playroom, and everything except the Ikea shelf is thrifted or from the flea market. I bought the vintage Spanish map at Saffron & Genevieve in Santa Cruz, and after getting insanely expensive quotes for framing, we DIYed a solution with a simple wood panel that Forest built and spray mounted.

Image above: Our house is a two bedroom, so the kids share. I did most of the decorating when Baker was small but tried to make it neutral enough to last. The paint is Sherwin Williams “Nurture.” The bedding is Dwell Studio for Target, the curtains are Land of Nod and the big art piece is from Ikea. Stuffed animals fit nicely (and out of sight) in Senegalese storage baskets. My mom made the quilt at the end of Baker’s bed out of Japanese fabrics, and it’s called a picture quilt; the idea is that you play a game of “I spy” with the prints. There is everything from robots to honeybees — very cute.

Image above: Forest’s family surprised us with this Eames rocker as a gift when I was pregnant with Baker. They know me well! My good friend Jess made the “monkey dragon” softie, and the elephant is by LookWhatIcanDo. The wardrobe is a family piece from Forest’s side, and it’s been used for many kids in the family.

Image above: The living room is long and narrow, so our sofa is on the smaller side. I am learning a lot about scale with this house. It’s from Room & Board, and though I like the look of upholstery better, slipcovers have been a lifesaver with small kids. The dhurrie is on loan from a friend, and the blue and white rug is from rugsusa.com. In this small room, I like how the CB2 acrylic coffee table doesn’t take up extra visual space, but people often ask how I keep anything on it and does it get scratched? It does, and our baby pulls all the books off, but I don’t mind piling them back up. It’s worth it to live with some scratches and have things we really love in our house versus opting for something else.

Image above: I saw these zany portraits of 1960s actresses at an antique shop, and I could not get them out of my head. They were in the powder room for a long time, but recently moved out to the living room. The colors are so good, and the plastic gold frames are so bad. And they make me laugh! The artichoke lamp is another favorite thrift find, and the chevron shades are by my mom (she’s amazing).

Image above: These chairs are a Craigslist find that were originally an awesome goldenrod, but sadly our dog attacked them when she was a puppy. I couldn’t find any affordable fabric to replace the upholstery and decided on slip covers for now, which were made by Katie Baker in Santa Cruz (my mom). There is a fuchsia sofa in an old issue of House & Garden that I love, but it took me a long time to actually do it. The last couple years we’ve been going a lot bolder with color in the house, and I am so glad. And this color acts like a neutral, where anything you put with it looks good. I sewed the chair pillows with Premier Prints Chipper fabric in candy pink from fabric.com.

Image above: The oil painting is from the Ventura Flea Market. The front door opens right into the living room, so these accordion peg racks hold our coats and bags. It’s a big challenge for me to keep the house clutter free, as I am not naturally inclined to minimalism, but I’m becoming a better editor and getting as much up off the ground as I can helps.

Suggested For You


  • I really really love this sneak peak! It’s simple, livable and colorful. I love seeing a house that isn’t stark white on a design blog these days. While beautifully simple, white just doesn’t seem like ‘Home’. Thanks for sharing your warm little place with us!

  • I always enjoy the sneak peeks, but I had to add a comment here – just love this place. Bright, fresh and full of sentimental and salvaged goodness. Love the little collections and the fun setups. As for the painted brick – we’ve painted brick before, and now in our new place we’ll definitely be doing it again. Sometimes it just looks better that way (and sometimes you have to leave it alone – the trick is to know when to do what! ;) Great job, and beautiful place!

  • acrylic coffee tables are my next love….I love how bold you were with color, and I am absolutely in love with your kitchen. I wonder if my boyfriend would mind pink chairs and a blue sofa? He always has to be “involved”.

  • Bravo. Thank you for letting us know that well, Target/Ikea and the internet can make a home beautiful…but more importantly, a heart wants what it wants. Gathering pieces you love makes the home. Love and inspired.

  • I just wanna say I love the painted brick! I appreciate when people value, but aren’t too precious about the bones of a home. Gorgeous colors (very breezy California!). XX, Lauren

  • I love the colors! Especially the blue in the dot pillow and zig zag fabric for the window shades in the first pictures. Do you mind sharing where you got them?

  • This house is so beautiful, I love it! I may be inspired to repaint my living room white, yours just looks so bright an cheery!

  • awesome peak! there are a couple of things I really really like about the house, like all the color and the artichoke lamp is so great. I just thrifted a pink pineapple lampbase, which I love!

  • Love this so much! Your home has so much character (those 60s actress portraits? omg!) AND style. You definitely have a talent with color and textures! Thanks so much for sharing – I’m inspired!

  • Love this space!! The colors are so breezy and refreshing. I am DYING to know the color in the kitchen!! That’s the perfect shade of mint I’ve been searching for!!!!

  • This is so lovely! It’s a perfect example of a thoughtfully-designed home that’s still very livable and not at all sterile. I want to move right in! :)

  • i LOOOOOVE this house. everything about it. everything. inspiration galore. thank you for posting.

  • Thank you so much for allowing us to take a peak into your home! It is both lovely and liveable.

  • Beautiful Raya! Everything is fabulous, of course. But I think my favorite thing it that artichoke lamp. SO beautiful!!!
    And, I just looked up Tree Blocks. Tempting….

  • Well done! I love that you don’t feel like you have to duplicate any exact elements to get the same feel in your own home. And it’s truly done on a budget. Love, love it. Fun, laid back and stylish (just like the family that lives there).

  • There’s one major thing I like here: the laid-back style and the unpretentious approach to interior decorating. Adorable and honest.

  • This is a wonderful home. One of my favorite things about it is that it is *both* kid-friendly and adult-appropriate!

  • I am in love with all the happy color combinations in this house. And I adore “what the heart wants the heart wants”. Such a lovely sentiment. And so true.

  • This is awesome! I love the light blue and the floral and gold accents. I live in a nearby city, and would love to see the list of thrift stores, flea markets, etc. she frequents!

  • Usually colors that bold can be jarring, but she does an incredible job of keeping the bright tones calm and soothing. It helps that the home is not too cluttered. I’ll certainly be stealing a few ideas:)

  • So much beautiful inspiration in this home! I love all the colors, patterns and textiles used to make it ever so homely, it makes me want to climb into the picture and snuggle up on the blue couch with a favorite mag and cup of tea xx

  • This is the first time I’m very jealous :) I love everything! You have the best vintage finds and the best mom :)

  • This is the absolute BEST sneak-peek I’ve seen on D*S. Raya, could you please tell us what paint color you used in the living room? I can’t tell if it’s a cream or a light pink from the pictures, but it looks gorgeous either way.

  • Wow! This is so inspiring! Love the colors and the bright, airy spaces. This home is definitely going to spark a redecorating project!!!!

  • I love this home tour! So fun and inspiring, I think my favorite thing is those lockers! We just moved into a tiny home ourselves and I like how this family embraced their small space, showing that it is possible to be content with less.

  • A playroom with this square footage? Great job!… It’s amazing how the open plan makes this place look so much bigger, love all the thrift finds; my favorite were those lockers! I’ve seen several for sale in my area, but my husband is hesitant when I mention about bringing then into the house. With two small children as well, this would be the perfect solution for a clutter-free home. Now I can show him how home-y they can look in a living space. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Thanks everyone for the kind words! I really love decorating our home and it’s fun to share. A few answers to questions: the dot pillows are from Ikea, the chevron fabric and fuchsia upholstery fabric are both from fabric.com, the white paint in our home is Benjamin Moore White Dove and I’m almost positive the kitchen color is Benjamin Moore Clear Spring Green (I’ve misplaced my swatch).

  • Scrolling through this sneak peek was just plain lovely…the color palette throughout the rooms complimented each other seamlessly and was so warm and vibrant…so much personality and positive energy in this house…I adore this!!

  • SO beautiful, Raya! I just love how you have created a truly unique, individual space for your sweet family. The color, carefully curated collections, and creativity you’ve shown in the design of your home are so thoughtful and intentional. LOVE all of it. Well done! Now… when can I come over for cocktails?! ;)

  • Love this house! Ventura is such a sweet place to live…you really lucked out with this house and I really enjoy your decorating style. Those silly gal portraits are the funniest thing I have seen in a while!

  • Such a lovely home but most of all the adorable pink/grey tote bag caught my eye! Would you please share some info where it’s from? :>

  • You know what my favorite thing is about the sneak peek posts? I mean besides the voyeuristic view into the private spaces of some lovely people and homes? My favorite part is to see the handwritten remark of why they love their homes and what they like to do in them. That is so intimate and human. Beautiful responses by everyone!

  • Hi Raya, thank you for sharing your beautiful and soulful home. Very inspiring! I have been looking for the right rug for our family room for a long time and I absolutely fell in love with your suzani/ikat style rug that is near your white lockers. I have scoured rugsusa.com but cannot find it. I am hoping it is still available and would be so very grateful if you could tell me what the name of the rug is so I hopefully find it. Much thanks in advance! Blessings, Elana Kilkenny

  • I used to live on Pierpont in Ventura in the late 80’s & 90’s before moving back to Australia. Raya’s amazing peek evoked many lovely memories – especially of the thrift shops and flea markets. I love how you’ve put everything together….
    Do you ever climb Two Tree Hill?

  • I am obsessed with this house! It’s so bright and colourful and kid-friendly without being tacky! Very inspirational.

  • This is a lovely home! I’d love to know where you found the cool cool teepee for the kiddos. Thanks!

  • What a lovely home! Love all the colors especially in your kitchen and dining area (I feel too often people just go with white and that is well so boring and often not very warm).

  • This is an absolutely beautifully designed home. I love the mix of styles and materials and the pops of fun colors. And my favorite comment of hers was that they still choose nice furniture they love and can live with the scratches and everything from the kids. I am also a big fan of those teal chevron shades!

  • Such a lovely lovely home! I think this is the first sneak peek ever, that I truly loved and could imagine living in. It really hit home for me – seeing that I have two kids as well – so this is something to aspire to, when we can finally afford to purchase a home.

  • First, let me say what a lovely home you have: the colors! the vignettes! the textiles! It’s a mishmash of thrifted and homespun style that just invites you in. I could imagine spending an afternoon on that banquette with a glass of Lillet and some decor mags. Secondly, you are a great photographer–have you ever thought about doing it professionally? Seriously, your shots are on par with anything I’ve seen in Domino or Lonny. Nice work!

  • I love the lockers! So hip, the color is fresh, and I’m sure it’s a lot of fun for the kids. We’re looking at an antique set of lockers ourselves at Interior Design Fair for a young-tech’s bachelor pad. Same item, different demographic – great minds!

  • Such a lovely wonderful home! I absolutely love how light and bright it is and all the wonderful finds you have in it to make it a home. Thank you so much for the rug link too! I love the rug and was looking all over rugsusa.com to find it to no avail until I saw your link in the comments. Thanks again!

  • I love love love this sneak peek! The colors are so charming and happy! I am sick to death of the white-explosion (yes, elegant but oh-so-boring!) and this made me smile SOOOO wide!

  • I LOVE the yellow pattern rounded sofa in the playroom!! It is EXACTLY what I am looking for in conjunction with an elliptical tulip like table. Could you tell me where you got them from?

  • Very laid back and home like. So many interior designs can look like a show piece but this is inspiring and usable! I love the contrast of colours and how it uses bold flashes in a subtle way.

  • Victoria – the couch was found at a used furniture store in town and the table is just an Ikea table top mounted to vintage hair pin legs that I bought on Craigslist. Easy to do!

  • I love your style! Quick question: where did you get your white metal bookcase? I’ve been looking for something just like it.

  • @christine – at a used furniture store in town. I know that doesn’t help you, but I think it was intended to be an outdoor piece and I found it in the garden section of this particular shop.

  • Raya! Your home is lovely! I have been trying to find the “Nurture” paint at Sherwin Williams, but they only have “Nurture Green” which seems much bolder than in your children’s room. Behr has a gray-blue color called “Nurture”. Does the color look bolder without the sunlight?

  • @Brittney – I can’t find my color on the Sherwin Williams site anymore – this is definitely a blue/gray, not a green. It is a very mellow color – the Behr version sounds very close to what we have. Hope that helps!

  • The feeling of your entire house is fantastic! I too love the paint color in your kitchen – can you give me the name of it?